Chaos and Creation in the Backyard

Studio Album by released in 2005
Chaos and Creation in the Backyard's tracklist:
Fine Line
How Kind of You
Jenny Wren
At the Mercy
Friends to Go
English Tea
Too Much Rain
A Certain Softness
Riding to Vanity Fair
Follow Me
Promise to You Girl
This Never Happened Before

Chaos and Creation in the Backyard review

Quiet though it may be, Paul McCartney experienced something of a late-career renaissance with the release of his 1997 album Flaming Pie. With that record, he shook off years of coyness and half-baked ideas and delivered an album that, for whatever its slight flaws, was both ambitious and cohesive, and it started a streak that continued through the driving rock & roll album Run Devil Run and its 2001 follow-up, Driving Rain. For Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, the follow-up to that record, McCartney tried a different tactic, returning to the one-man band aesthetic of his debut album, McCartney. Apart from a guitar part or two, a couple of drum tracks, and, of course, the strings and horns that pop up now and again, McCartney played everything here, from the guitars and keyboards down to the bass and drums. The difference is that instead of producing the record by himself, McCartney brought in alt-rock auteur Nigel Godrich, best known as the producer behind Radiohead's OK Computer and Beck's Mutations. Consequently, Chaos and Creation in the Backyard is quiet and meditative, not without its share of eccentricities, nor without its share of sprightly tunes but the overall feel of the record is one that's reflective and ruminative, not messy or silly.

Thirty-five years into his solo career, Paul McCartney continues to surprise, opening this set with four of his best songs in ages. The single Fine Line is top-notch piano pop a la Lady Madonna; How Kind of You is at once moody, sentimental and cliche-free; Jenny Wren is a lovely acoustic ballad with shades of Blackbird; and At the Mercy brims with melodic delights. Sir Paul said he felt late Beatle George Harrison helped him write the seamless Friends To Go. The rest of Chaos and Creation in the Backyard cannot compete with that introductory salvo, but even the least entertaining material (the “just be happy” ditty Too Much Rain) is mercifully brief. Elsewhere, McCartney dabbles in Latin lilt (Certain Softness), nods to Because-style layered harmonies (the peppy Promise to You Girl) and, on the unnamed hidden track, plugs in for three short garage-y jams.

Emotionally, Chaos and Creation in the Backyard manages to avoid being mired in oversentimentality, while retaining a powerful, understated sincerity. Poignant though it is, however, the record is essentially positive and hopeful: Sir Paul's playfulness beams through in his intonation, which breathes life and optimism into its words. English Tea completes the package, an unrepentantly twee serving of Anglo-nostalgia with recorder. Chaos and Creation in the Backyard displays the full range of McCartney's inimitable talent, presenting listeners with one of his finest solo albums. He’s not getting any younger, but on this album he proves he still has a few tricks up his sleeve.

Rate review4.77
Total votes - 259

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